Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Museum of Art

Art Illuminating the Spirit


retabloRetablo, n.d.
Nicario Jiménez Quispe (Peru, b. 1957)
Painted clay, wood
The James and Emilia Govan Crèche Collection. 2009:07-21

This crèche is in the form of a retablo, or portable box depicting religious figures. Using a mixture of clay from potatoes and Plaster of Paris, Jiménez has depicted a chaotic scene in which the three wise men are joined by shepherds dressed in traditional Peruvian attire. Angels fly into the scene from all directions, adding to the festival-like atmosphere.

The James and Emilia Govan Crèche Collection comprises more than 500 nativity scenes from around the world. The collection, assembled over a 30-year period, features crèches from more than 100 countries and cultures, including works by Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Taoist artists.

The collection demonstrates how both Western and non-Western cultures interpret the Nativity. Through the inclusion of local architecture, clothing, animals, and materials, the Nativity story becomes personalized to each culture.